As the fulfillment of human desire and striving, happiness is a very complex term that includes feelings from momentary to persistent, from peaceful to ecstatic happiness, but which we can also encounter in relation to an external event, for example in the meaning of a happy coincidence or the happiness favorable fate application. In the former meanings, the term happiness denotes an internally felt state, in the latter, however, an external favorable event.
The "pursuit of happiness" found its way into the United States ' Declaration of Independence , the founding document of the first modern democracy , as an original individual right to freedom . There it is called the Pursuit of Happiness after Thomas Jefferson . The promotion of individual human striving for happiness is now the subject of specific research and advice from neurobiological, medical, sociological, philosophical and psychotherapeutic points of view.
Etymology and usage
The word "Glück" comes from Middle Low German gelucke / lucke (from the 12th century) or Middle High German gelücke / lücke . It meant "the way things end / work out well". Luck was therefore the favorable outcome of an event. This must be distinguished from happiness, which is usually explained and understood in connection with a state of (religious) redemption or a high degree of complacency. In other languages, there is a clear distinction between being lucky and being happy in the meaning of the word. In English, for example, there are the expressions “to be lucky” and “to be happy”. Already in Greek there is a distinction between “eutychia” and “eudaimonia”. The Latins also made a distinction between “fortuna” and “felicitas” and the French between “la bonne chance” and “le bonheur”. The opposite of luck (in the sense of “being lucky by chance”) is unpredictably occurring misfortune, calamity or bad luck .
Being lucky in the sense of chance means either being fateful or benefiting from an unforeseeable event . Examples include winning the lottery , roulette, or any other game of chance ; This includes avoiding a disadvantage even by accident. The prerequisite for this on the part of the "happy one" is neither a certain talent nor even personal involvement. In contrast, the vernacular asserts an at least partial responsibility of the individual for the achievement of happiness in life in the saying: "Everyone is the maker of his happiness". Accordingly, the ability to be happy in a given situation depends not only on external circumstances but also on one's own attitudes and efforts.
A lucky streak is called the stringing together of several positive experiences (see also hot-hand phenomenon ). As the origin of the word "luck" suggests, a lucky streak is attributed to (lucky) chance , even if in many cases it is the foreseeable result of hard work and only the temporal proximity of chance. In philosophy, the idea of a lucky streak goes back to the eudaemonism of Crito .
Trigger of feelings of happiness
Research results in the neurosciences have provided important insights into the biological basis of feelings of happiness. In the course of the ongoing intensive brain research , the level of knowledge in this regard should be expanded. Endorphins , oxytocin and the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin have been shown to have a significant influence on feelings of happiness . The brain releases these messenger substances during various activities, for example when eating, during sexual intercourse or during sport , but also in a state of satisfied relaxation , in which serotonin and endorphins are involved.
The fact that chemical substances have a great effect on our emotional life, that they can change our mood in the short term and help determine our behavior, questions the conventional image of man in part, says the author Stefan Klein : "We see ourselves as spiritual beings, we feel about hopes, Thoughts and desires inspired, not by chemistry. When we fall in love or proudly look at our children, can we really believe that this joy of existence is nothing more than the flow of some chemicals in our head? ”But Klein emphasizes that the connections are not that simple either:“ The formulas Dopamine equals lust, oxytocin equals maternal love - if only because these messenger substances are not the only culprits . ”Certain neurotransmitters play a major role in the human emotional balance, but only in a multifaceted network of effects.
Manufactured by the pharmaceutical industry for medical purposes, such substances are used as drugs, for example for depression . Many drugs also cause such substances to be released in the brain in unnaturally high doses ; Due to the consumption, there is a 'flood' of these endogenous messenger substances during the period of action, which can produce an intense feeling of happiness in the consumer.
From the perspective of evolutionary biology, there is no conscious pursuit of happiness in the behavior of living things. However, especially those animals and humans brought forth and still bring forth viable generations of offspring for whom such behaviors were or are coupled with pleasant sensations that ensure their own survival, success within the social group and the safe growth of healthy offspring.
In humans, the feeling of happiness has become partially detached from the original reward function for behaviors that serve to produce offspring. Various techniques are now used to achieve happiness as an isolated goal. These include entertainment , status symbols, and drugs . This change has far-reaching consequences through the human ability to experience consciously . The incentive of a good mood as a reward for “something” can now be replaced by the imagination of a feeling of happiness for “nothing” .
Sources of happiness
In a telephone survey of 1000 participants carried out by Time Magazin in 2004 about what brought them the greatest happiness in life, more than half of those questioned stated the children / grandchildren (35%) or the family (17%), 11% named theirs Religion, 9% their partner.
Moments of happiness in everyday life
In the same year, a team led by Daniel Kahneman in Texas used a daily calendar and questionnaire to investigate which of the activities on the previous day caused which feelings in the participants in 900 women. Seven-point scale information was offered for self-assessment , including a. how happy you were during an activity and how much fun you had. The five most positive activities of the previous day turned out to be the following (in descending order): sex, socializing, relaxation, praying / meditating and eating. Exercising and watching TV were a little behind. But only further down followed, after cooking, “I'll take care of my children”, which was just before housework.
Social condition and impact factors
In addition to the current strong emotions, which can be traced back to very different forms of incentive, the term happiness also includes more permanent manifestations that are expressed in individual ascriptions such as "cheerful nature" or in the certification of " happiness in life ". More stable forms of individual wellbeing are significantly promoted through the way of experiencing and shaping social contacts, which have a formative influence on everyone from an early age.
The ability to develop stable and happy partner relationships often depends to a large extent on the relationships in the family of origin: “If you felt safe as a child, you can cope better with conflicted situations as an adult, but also with everyday problems. Yes, even in school and as a teenager he will have fewer difficulties with his peers and be more emotionally resilient. In a partnership, these people are more likely to open up, respond to each other, give each other space, stick together and let themselves go because they feel secure and can trust. "
On the other hand, emotional experiences in new relationships can lead to a lifelong change in established attitudes, friendships contribute significantly to health and happiness: "We experience the depth of our feelings not while watching television, but in a friendly conversation." Non- verbal communication in the form of body contact (touch, Stroking, hugging) is an important means of creating well-being. Physical attention brings about harmony , a normalization of the heart rate and breathing as well as relaxation of the muscles. Overall, it has "the healing effect of love".
“The growing number of intensive contacts with our fellow human beings will determine our lives more and more in the age of the Internet and mobile phones. As in a network, we are built into the variety of cultural and informative systems of meaning. Anyone who believes they can draw meaning from within themselves will very quickly reach a limit, not only in the multimedia, even in the artistic field. "
“Like the barber of Seville, one reacts in all directions to requirements that arise at short notice - Figaro here, Figaro there - without drawing up a picture of reality that describes the many events in detail. [...] Politics, the media landscape, advertising, the development of new products, not least our everyday lives all seem to be infested with galloping episodism . We are constantly shouting new stimulus words at each other, falling victim to changing problematic modes, being seized by chasing arousal trends. The course through reality turns into a ghost train ride. "
On the other hand, the often impersonal and anonymous forms of modern communication are problematized, which often only offer an illusion of community. In view of the tendency to overabundance of media stimuli and contact offers, it has become necessary for one's own well-being to find the right level and a suitable mixture of these forms of communication.
Chances of assertion
In terms of social context, the key to individual happiness, according to Klein, is to be in control of your own life. Those who lack self-determination get into harmful stress. A subordinate rank in the hierarchy of authorities, for example, increases the subordinate's risk of illness compared with that of his superiors and reduces his relative life expectancy, according to the results of the investigation. The external determination of one's own actions and an increased risk of bullying are seen as the causes. On the other hand, research on the elderly shows that even a limited increase in the choice of options for residents of old people's homes, be it in terms of food or the setting of excursion destinations, significantly increases life satisfaction and significantly reduces the death rate.
Satisfaction and willingness to identify with a political system also clearly depend on the extent of the rights of participation that citizens have with regard to shaping common social issues. Such conclusions have essentially been drawn from studies of different direct participation competencies in the democratic practice of the Swiss cantons. Klein sums up his findings with regard to socio-political happiness requirements:
“Citizenship, social balance and control over one's own life are the magic triangle of well-being in a society. The better these three criteria are met in a society, the more satisfied people are with their lives. But you cannot look at these factors in isolation. They need and condition each other. "
The art of healing and the art of living as pioneers
As shown, the individual experience of happiness is influenced by a variety of social framework conditions. Beyond that, however, there is the question of the feasibility of individual happiness. Often times, traumatic experiences in childhood and adolescence stand in the way; But even at an advanced age, cuts due to accidents, violence and catastrophes of all kinds can have such a lasting impact on the emotional life that without therapeutic intervention, the mental balance - which is often regarded as a basic requirement for happiness - cannot be regained. On the other hand, everyday normality is usually not such that the search for more happiness in life is unnecessary. Therefore, psychotherapeutic aids, (esoteric) search for meaning and the development of the individual art of living are among the most sought-after sources in the search for happiness.
The interrelationships between body and soul, between body and mind are recognized as fundamentally important, and not only when it comes to researching the causes and treating diseases; They also play a decisive role in the feeling of happiness. A happily increased attitude towards life is measurably reflected in certain body functions: the heart beats a little faster, the skin becomes a little warmer and more moist due to improved blood circulation, its electrical resistance drops. And the body signals - even beyond sex, solar heat and food consumption - by no means only play a subordinate role in the experience of happiness: “Thoughts, memories, hopes alone do not allow us to experience emotions. Only when they connect with the right body signals can we feel joy. Because from these signals the brain constructs the perception of physical well-being. "
Recent research by neurologist Antonio Damasio has shown that joyful, fearful, and defensive emotions in the body precede the conscious feelings generated by the cerebral cortex. Intuition and intuitive action have their basis in this preliminary run. Intuition is based on preconscious experience, shows a way even in confusing situations and saves time in danger. "So sometimes the body knows more than the mind," summarizes Klein and quotes Blaise Pascal : "The heart has reasons that reason does not know." On the other hand, this means that we act on the involuntary nervous system that originates from the brain stem, the inner one Organs and blood vessels controls have little influence. We are therefore denied the quick path to happiness by making our own decisions.
A fortune for everyone?
A well-known advisor on the path to a happy existence is the Dalai Lama . He sees learning as the first step in the pursuit of happiness. A variety of approaches and methods are required to overcome negative mental states such as hatred, jealousy and anger through suitable meditative exercises over time: "The systematic training of the mind - the development of happiness, the real inner change through the deliberate selection of Positive mental states and the focus on them on the one hand and challenging the negative mental states on the other - is possible due to the structure and function of the brain. "
Such goal-oriented exercises are not only known to Buddhism ; they can be found in many cultures and across epochs, for example in the various yoga variants and in numerous forms of asceticism up to Christian and Islamic fasting . The saying "Everything is exercise" is traced back to the ancient philosopher Periander . The various schools of philosophy of antiquity then developed a whole repertoire of exercises in order to promote detachment from harmful affects such as greed, jealousy and fear of death and to come closer to the respective ideal of happiness. In this way, philosophical theory and the practical art of living formed a unit.
The fact that happiness requires activity and a fulfilling occupation is one of the insights that have been valid from ancient times. The positive effect of physical exercise and sporting activity on the emotional life, on the other hand, is a finding that has only been proven by recent brain research - especially important for people with sedentary work and a corresponding need for compensation: "Play, sport, but also normal walking in the The outdoors and at the same time seeing, hearing and smelling are a source of joy and happiness. Often our senses are stunted and we have to learn these things again. But physical movement should be supported by also challenging the psyche and spirit, for example by refining the motor skills in a more specific sport in groups or through other meaningful activities that fill us with joy and satisfaction. "
Which types of activity promote individual happiness most depends on the respective personal inclinations and strengths, about which it is therefore important to gain clarity. A special feeling of happiness, which is described by the term flow , can arise when a person is so focused on an activity that he is completely absorbed in it, so to speak. According to Csikszentmihalyi, however, flow experiences are not possible without a high degree of physical or mental skill and performance. “Every decrease in concentration erases the experience. But while it continues, the consciousness works smoothly; The activities follow one another seamlessly. ”A pleasant feeling of self-forgetfulness can arise. “When you are not concerned with yourself, you have the opportunity to expand the idea of who you are. The loss of self-esteem can lead to self-transcendence, a feeling that the limits of being can be expanded. "
Even developed art of living does not lead to a lasting experience of happiness, but increases its frequency and resonance. Since our sensory organs, which are decisive for feelings of happiness, are based on the perception of contrasts, it is advisable in everyday life not to seek happiness in the mere repetition of certain experiences, but rather to follow the old motto “variatio delectat” (enjoy variety). According to Klein, however, a “rotation of pleasures” with repetitions at intervals can be practiced. A moderate openness to new things also appears to be worthwhile: the unknown would also be accompanied by stress; on the other hand, one of the strongest feelings of pleasure is associated with the happy surprise. Too often the fear of the new triumphs because, in evolutionary terms, we reacted more strongly to the danger of discomfort than to the lure of an experience of the unknown.
Subject of social and opinion research
In the social structural change driven by technical development and computer science , globalization and multiculturalism, sociology and demoscopy have recently become increasingly active in happiness research . In addition to this, economic interests and aspects of market research play a role, which through advertising, consumption and experience incentives have a shaping effect on the human pursuit and experience of happiness.
The explicit engagement with the research subject luck has only recently taken up again by social scientists because of the ambiguity of the term and because of the “long-term marginality of cultural contents and meanings”. In contrast, it is more common to deal with the word environment, for example with well-being, quality of life or satisfaction. In particular, it is now about the classic sociological question of the role of social change for individual lifestyle. Against the background of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster in 1986 - and with a view to the ecological side effects of today's economic and production processes - Ulrich Beck outlined current aspects of such change in the concept of the risk society :
“In the course of its technical-industrial transformation and worldwide marketing, nature was brought into the industrial system. At the same time, in this way, it has become an insurmountable precondition for leading a life in the industrial system. Consumption and market dependency now means "nature" dependence again in a new way, and this immanent "nature" dependence of the market system becomes, in and with the market system, the law of conduct in industrial civilization. Against the threat to the outside world, we have learned to build huts and gather knowledge. We are almost defenseless at the mercy of the industrial threats of the secondary nature that has been brought into the industrial system. Are driven to blind passengers of normal consumption. They travel with the wind and the water, are stuck in everything and everyone and pass through with the most essential things - breathing air, food, clothing, home furnishings - all otherwise strictly controlled protection zones of modernity. "
The anthropogenic climate change with its side effects and consequential problems works in the same direction. In addition, the development in the classic industrialized countries tends towards loosened social ties of the individual with regard to family, church, political parties and associations, which thus also lose orientational influence: “In the individualized society, the individual must learn to learn about himself if he is penalized for his permanent disadvantage as a center of action, as a planning office in relation to one's own curriculum vitae, skills, orientations, partnerships, etc. "
Under the impression of the current sociological discussion about social development perspectives, there are mainly three levels for Barheier on which concepts of happiness are to be examined: While in the dispute between the representatives of liberalism and communitarianism, public happiness is primarily at issue, on the other hand, the " multi-option society " offers a diverse opportunity to realize personal happiness. Between these two poles lies the area to be characterized by the terms “risk” and “fatefulness”, which is incalculable and therefore, in a special way, a matter of luck. The merging of these levels of happiness concepts, which were previously treated as separate and side by side, should, according to Barheier, be a “specific feature on the threshold of the 21st century”.
Public opinion surveys
Relationship to income
In general, money is relevant for well-being , but the effect is usually overestimated. In addition, high income , in particular, has only a limited (in the literal sense) influence on happiness in life, as the indicators for happiness no longer rise above a certain level of income. You reach a " saturation ", i. H. a plateau. For Western Europe and Scandinavia, this plateau is reached from a weighted equivalent annual income of 50,000 to 100,000 dollars (depending on the indicator). The latter value (in the year the study was published) corresponded to an income of 7,062 euros per month. Especially for one of the indicators, life satisfaction, this value is a turning point. In other words, if income continues to rise above this point, life satisfaction drops again. For example, life satisfaction with an income of $ 160,000 is roughly the same as that for an income of $ 50,000.
Surveys are used not only from a sociological and economic point of view, but also as individual orientation aids, which are intended to act as a yardstick for collective happiness and the pursuit of happiness. Has caused quite a stir z. B. The 1998 worldwide study by the London School of Economics and Political Science , from which a ranking of the individual states was derived according to the respondents' feelings of happiness. According to this, with Bangladesh , Azerbaijan , Nigeria , the Philippines and India, the first five countries were those that neither showed advanced industrialization nor were among those with an average well-off population. It seemed surprising and in need of explanation that the population in industrialized countries with high per capita income fell significantly (Great Britain in 32nd place, France in 37th place, Germany in 42nd place, USA in 46th place).
The fact that happiness is increasingly to be found in those who often still struggle to meet basic needs such as food, water, clothing, housing and basic medical care has aroused skepticism regarding the survey methods and the evaluation of the results of this survey. The Berliner Zeitung reported an example of the result of an on-site research in November 2000: "Recent European explorers saw, smelled and felt the misery of Bangladesh and came to the conclusion: 'This is no life.' But let's ask the skinny little woman in a torn sari who crouches at sunset in the ruins of the ancient Buddhist monastery of Paharpur in northwest Bangladesh. [...] 'I'm fine, I eat twice a day.' Twice, that's not bad indeed. And she laughs so that the view of her tooth stumps is completely free. Neither Ms. Mujahi nor her 23-year-old son Musun have ever watched TV, they do not know what kind of luck fabric softeners for terry towels promise or what feeling of freedom a certain car brand conveys. If she had money, Ms. Mujahi would marry off the son or have his night blindness treated. But unhappy? No no. She was 'very, very happy', of course, she lived with a family and 'under the great, wonderful sky' ”.
Happiness comparisons of this kind are fraught with the problem that different cultures significantly influence the feeling of happiness: “Japanese are notoriously dissatisfied, Central Americans are more cheerful. [...] US citizens are hardly shaken by the fact that the rich get richer quickly, while the rest of America is stagnating - because they believe in the American promise: if you try hard, you get up. Continental Europeans feel differently. The attitude towards risk differs on this side of the Atlantic: Americans live with it more easily than Europeans. "
The method problems in happiness studies are manifold. A study by the British New Economics Foundation (NEF) published in mid-2006 put the residents of the island state of Vanuatu at the top of the lucky list. In the evaluation of this ecologically oriented foundation, in addition to the degree of expressed satisfaction of the people, the measured values of life expectancy and dealing with the environment (“ecological footprint”) were included. Colombia , Costa Rica , Dominica and Panama also performed well , while Austria (61st place), Switzerland, Iceland and Italy (64 to 66 places) were ranked the best among the European industrial countries. Germany came in 81st place, the US landed in 150th place. The particularly good ranking of islanders was noticeable.
A “world map of happiness” emerged from another study published in 2006 by the British social psychologist Adrian G. White, who primarily considered the factors of health , prosperity and education as a measure of happiness . According to this, Danes, Swiss and Austrians took the top three places, while the least fortunate people in the Congo , Zimbabwe and Burundi came in last. A more recent comparative study, which summarizes numerous international studies over a longer time horizon, comes to completely different results: Iceland , New Zealand , Norway , Sweden , Ireland and Canada - countries with a low population density and high life expectancy - come at the top, followed by many Eastern European countries and Latin American countries (excluding Brazil ) as well as Iraq and Zimbabwe. Germany is still behind Egypt , Kyrgyzstan and Rwanda .
The World Happiness Report is an annual report published by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network and is another method for measuring happiness. The report includes life satisfaction rankings in different countries around the world and data analysis from different perspectives. The report was drafted by u. A. Jeffrey Sachs , Richard Layard, and John F. Helliwell. Factors that are included in the index include: a. life expectancy, level of prosperity, trust within a society, the extent of social support and subjectively perceived life satisfaction.
All in all, the diverse international surveys also show that happiness and the feeling of happiness depend on a variety of influencing factors, in particular on individual perception and the socio-cultural environment. This also explains the so-called prosperity paradox, which expresses the fact that despite an average increase in incomes in western societies over the past 50 years, the beneficiaries have hardly become happier.
The Swiss economist Mathias Binswanger says that above an annual income of $ 20,000 per person, money doesn't make you happier. This roughly coincides with international comparative studies that see this “saturation point” at 60 to 70,000 or 100,000 dollars per family.
A prosperity paradox was also found in intersex happiness comparisons. Since the 1970s, the subjective satisfaction of women compared to that of men in the USA fell. This contrasts with the improvement of many objective and material indicators of the quality of life of women.
Concept of happiness and the pursuit of happiness in philosophy
Philosophy already played the role of a guide to the art of living in Greek antiquity , which in turn was considered the basis of a happy existence. The advice given by the ancients on the art of living according to Höffe is still noteworthy because in this field - unlike in modern sciences - the ever new discoveries and inventions do not dominate: "The two decisive factors, the challenges of life and the answers that are suitable for happiness, Because of their connection with the human condition , they are essentially independent of culture and epoch. "
What tends to differentiate the ancient concept of happiness from the modern one lies in the efforts of the early philosophers to develop objective standards of happiness (i.e. external goods or internal attitudes of man), from the fulfillment of which happiness in life can be derived (“happiness in fulfillment”), while the modern conception is more likely is based on subjective, episodic self-assessments of individuals (“feeling happiness”): “The enormous importance of the modern subjectification of happiness can be seen in political liberalism , for example . Central characteristics of liberal democracy are its openness to different conceptions of the good life and its fundamental neutrality towards diverging ideas of happiness. "
Ancient happiness horizons
Characteristic features of ancient ideas of happiness can already be found in the run-up to classical Greek philosophy. A well-known example is the visit of the Athenian statesman Solon , one of the seven wise men , to the Lydian king Kroisos , who wants the guest to confirm that he is the happiest person on earth. Solon, however, describes Tellos from Athens as the happiest because he lived in a prosperous community, had brave sons, healthy grandchildren, a good fortune and an honorable death on the battlefield, which earned him the respect of his fellow citizens. Before death, he humbles Kroisos, no one should consider himself happy. The information is also known as the "Paradox of Solon"; because after death it is no longer possible to take a position, so that at no point in time should anyone say of himself (or someone else of a living person) that he is happy.
The fact that only lasting success in life is suitable to establish happiness was taken up by ancient philosophy and largely turned inward. A person who had a good daimon who instructed him to lead a virtuous life was regarded as happy in the sense of eudaimonia . The differences between the ancient schools of philosophy were mainly based on ideas about what kind of lifestyle ultimately led to a well-rounded and commendable existence in the sense of eudaimonia.
For Socrates , eudaimonia was not a privilege of the wealthy, the noble and those favored by the gods, but a goal attainable for all, which is to be striven for through a virtuous lifestyle based on reason. In view of the trial against him for godlessness and seduction of the youth, which ended with his death sentence, Socrates emphasized that, in the interests of happiness for one's soul, it is better to suffer injustice than to do injustice. He therefore refused to allow friends to escape from prison. It was not only with this clearly morally accentuated turn of the concept of happiness that Socrates impressed the following generations of philosophers; His simple lifestyle and his sometimes astonishing body control were also considered exemplary.
Plato's concept of happiness was closely related to that of his teacher Socrates. According to his reading, eudaimonia is based on a lifestyle that is committed to justice. Justice is revealed to the philosopher in the contemplation and imitation of the order of ideas, which is inherent in the well-ordered and constant and - as the fulfillment of human endeavors - the good. Those who have lived their lives righteously and holy come to the “islands of the blessed” after their death. Plato considered the continued existence of souls, just as well as unjust, after death and their reward or punishment depending on the way of life as possible.
In the framework of the Nicomachean Ethics , Aristotle for his part thoroughly examined the concept of happiness and preceded his extensive treatise that one would have to be content with the degree of certainty that corresponds to the given substance Components composed. As the highest and self-sufficient goal, happiness should be placed before all other human endeavors such as honor, pleasure and reason. Eudaimonia is bound to an activity, otherwise it could also be attained in sleep or in the manner of plant life; and like happiness, the activity associated with it must also be self-sufficient. Aristotle regards this requirement as fulfilled for spiritual considerations:
“For the mind is the best in us, and the objects of the mind are again the best in the whole realm of knowledge. Then it is the most persistent. We can think persistently more easily than anything else persistently.
We also believe that happiness must be mixed with pleasure. But of all virtuous activities, the one directed towards wisdom is admittedly the most enjoyable. And in fact philosophy offers delights of wonderful purity and persistence ... "
For the successful occupation in theoretical studies, leisure is required above all, but this cannot be obtained in the otherwise important fields of activity of war and politics. Secondly, activities that are determined by virtues such as justice and courage are important for eudaimonia; Politics and war effort are important areas of application for this. And finally, according to Aristotle, a happy person also needs good external living conditions (health, food, other needs), and like everything else in the right measure, but not in excess.
In the epoch of Hellenism that followed Aristotle and the conquests of his student Alexander the Great , the philosophically justified striving for happiness took on increasingly ascetic traits, demonstrated by the Cynics and their prominent representative Diogenes von Sinope , who indulged in happiness that was materially so poor that Legend has it that Alexander, who came to see him and inquired about his wishes, answered: “Get out of the sun for me a little.” Despite or because of the affront, Alexander is said to have exclaimed as he left in view of the amusement of his companions: “Truly ! If I were not Alexander, I would like to be Diogenes. ”In fact, Alexander and Diogenes - insofar as the latter actually existed as a historical figure - should not have met one another; one could "not speak of historical authenticity in the stories about the meeting of Alexander and Diogenes."
After his return, a participant in Alexander's procession to India, Pyrrhon von Elis , founded with skepticism an original philosophical trend of renunciation, in this case the renunciation of certain knowledge. The Eudaimonistic model for him and his followers was a relaxed, shock-free life. The Pyrrhones therefore devoted themselves to ataraxia ("lack of excitement") and saw the way to happiness in remaining "free of opinion", that is, to abstain from any judgment.
Just as the Cynics had their mastermind in the Socrates pupil Antisthenes , so Epicurus and his followers were able to tie in with the teaching of the Socrates pupil Aristippus of Cyrene . According to him, the individual sensory perceptions are the yardstick for good, and a coordinated maximization of pleasure promises the highest level of happiness. Epicurus added to this doctrine associated with enjoyable well-being in Aristippus, a. a. A pronounced ascetic component is added, so that the established Epicurean sage ultimately has neither pain nor death or the gods to fear and, precisely because of the targeted, moderate satisfaction of needs (and avoidance of displeasure), achieves the happiness of a permanent, maximum gain in pleasure. With death in mind, Epicurus authenticated his own teaching, which goes hand in hand with high esteem for friendship, in his farewell letter to Idomeneus as follows: “While spending the blessed and at the same time last day of my life, I am writing these lines to you. I am haunted by urinary and dysentery problems that no longer allow me to increase in size. But all this is offset by the joy of the soul over the memory of the conversations we had. "
Around the same time as the Epicureans, Zeno von Kition created the Stoa, another school of philosophy with its own model of happiness and lasting charisma in Athens. For Stoics, it is above all the use of human reason in harmony with the order of the cosmos that can bring them the happiness of peace of mind. The main thing is to gain control over one's own affects and to learn to differentiate between the things to which one's own creative ability and responsibility extends - guiding ideas, judgment, active striving - and things that are to be regarded as morally indifferent ( adiaphora ), which are not in your own hands to dispose of, such as B. Body shape, possession or reputation. An apparently very simple stoic formula for happiness comes from Seneca :
“He who has insight is also measured; who is measured, also indifferent; he who is indifferent cannot be disturbed; he who does not allow himself to be disturbed is without sorrow; he who is without sorrow is happy: therefore the one who has insight is happy, and insight is sufficient for a happy life! "
In contrast to the eudaimonia of the Aristotelians or the Epicureans, the stoic was less aimed at a life filled with contemplation in leisure or a life mainly among like-minded friends. Stoics knew they were committed to the community and took part in it as cosmopolitans . As the last in the series of important Stoic philosophers, Emperor Mark Aurel testified:
“But my nature is reasonable and destined for the community; but my city and my fatherland, insofar as my name is Antonin, Rome, insofar as I am a person, the world. So only that which benefits these states is good for me. "
Stoa and Neoplatonism mark the outcome of the ancient philosophy of happiness for the soul. In some respects, however, they were also groundbreaking for the subsequently dominant Christian orientation of existence in the European Middle Ages . Plotinus saw man exist in the tension between sensual-physical and soul-spiritual reality. As the highest eudaimonistic striving beyond the lifeworld reality, he determined the metaphysical one to which it is important to rise spiritually and at the same time to return. "The ascent of the human being is then to be understood logically as his 'becoming spirit', that is, the step-by-step transition to a theoretical form of existence combined with a moral-ascetic lifestyle."
Church father Augustine , for his part, saw human striving for happiness in a very similar way directed towards returning to God. For him, happiness was that in which all action and desire came to a standstill. Only the unchangeability of God enables lasting human happiness. "The Neoplatonic motif of having or enjoying God acquired a lasting and central meaning for the later Christian-metaphysical tradition."
Modern happiness concepts
- Greatest luck of the greatest number
The philosophical examination of the meaning and conditions of human happiness remains linked to the ancient horizons of happiness in many ways, even in modern times. The Age of Enlightenment was a heyday of philosophical debates about the human pursuit of happiness . Important suggestions and course-setting were based on two strongly contrasting concepts that were developed parallel to the development process of the United States of America on the eve of the French Revolution : the utilitarianism founded by Jeremy Bentham with echoes of the lust teachings of Antisthenes and Epicurus and the stoic control of reason reminiscent, cosmopolitan ethics of duty by Immanuel Kant . Both approaches have in common that they are not primarily aimed at individual salvation, but rather at the welfare of society as a whole.
Bentham first brought this to the formula of the "greatest happiness of the greatest number", which would be of great importance for general benefit, especially in questions of legislation. As part of a " hedonistic calculation ", it is necessary to determine how the pleasure-pain-consequence relation associated with certain measures can be optimized in favor of the desired side (pleasures), whereby the intensity, duration, probability and temporal proximity of the occurrence are assessed for both parameters should. The utilitarianism developed further by John Stuart Mill represents an essential basis for liberalism as a political as well as an economic system of order . Mill pointed out that there are also other than hedonistic forms of pleasure or happiness and did not see utilitarianism in contrast to scientific, artistic ones and humanitarian work. Mill's sentence is well known: “It is better to be a dissatisfied person than a satisfied pig; better a dissatisfied Socrates than a satisfied fool. "
- Bliss within limits
For Kant, the striving for happiness is a natural quality of man. But because that which makes people happy is contingent, the actions that lead to happiness cannot be formulated as commandments. They are based on sensual sensations and are different for everyone. This is why Kant calls the hypothetical imperatives directed towards happiness the advice of prudence. The end of happiness is clear, but not the means to achieve it. Overriding the striving for happiness are the commandments of morality, the formal determination of which is made by the categorical imperative , because the happiness of one person does not have to correspond to the happiness of the other. It is good to strive for bliss as long as the corresponding actions are within the limits of morality. In addition, happiness is not a short-term feeling of happiness, but a project that has a long-term effect throughout life.
- "Happiness is the state of a rational being in the world, to whom everything in the whole of his existence goes according to desire and will, and is therefore based on the harmony of nature for his entire purpose, in the same way as for the essential determinant of his will."
- Enjoying the unavailable
Following Max Scheler, Dieter Thomä thematizes a downright hostility to happiness in Kantian and post-Kantian German philosophy, both in Fichte and Hegel (for whom "world history was in any case not the basis of happiness") and in Schopenhauer (who thought people would strive for happiness for their innate error held) and Nietzsche ("Am I striving for happiness? I strive for my work!"). On the other hand, the duality of self-preservation and self-determination, which Thomä regards as a basic element of modern pursuit of happiness on a utilitarian basis and as a cornerstone in the thinking of the founding fathers of the United States , harbors the risk of partially overburdening individuals as citizens and active promoters of their own happiness.
He advocates a more relaxed approach to the question of happiness in order to exhaust the happiness potential: “The modern concept of a self-determined life struggles with the happy fulfillment of life, the happy being involved in life, and so happiness slips through his fingers. Those who then chase after it all the more persistently do not notice that they are only driving it further in front of and away from them. If instead one finds oneself in the unavailability of happiness, it also means that one is ready to enjoy the fact of this unavailability for oneself. It is part and parcel of happiness itself. Happiness depends on the self that enjoys it and is thus in the right not to have a complete grip on itself. ”The conclusion of Thomä's attempt at a philosophical rehabilitation of happiness in modern times is:“ Am In the end, it is self-love, in which the search for a path between traditionalist and autonomist descriptions of the human self is successful. "
- Modern art of living teaching
Wilhelm Schmid is currently operating on a similar basis with his offer of a modern art of living teaching, which is less rigid than some ancient forerunners, but wants to provide a lifelike compilation of options for action and philosophical processing patterns: “ Hermeneutic material with the help of which one's own life is thought through can be. ”He differentiates between chance happiness, happiness and happiness of abundance. The latter can be rediscovered today as a “good flow of life” leaving behind the fleeting moments of the other two forms of happiness in the sense of “flowing back and forth like a sea and its tides”. The interplay of pleasure and pain is also part of life. Trying to avoid pain and unhappiness completely deprives you of the experience of contrasts that make pleasure tangible in the first place, and leads to a loss of orientation, "because pain is the sting that makes you think about life." Andreas Kumpf combines the approach of the art of living by Wilhelm Schmid with psychological happiness research and introduces an expanded concept of happiness in life as a "two-component model". A source consists of a certain number of happy moments; the second is long-term satisfaction with certain aspects and decisions made in life. Only when both components come together in the respective age can one speak of highly pronounced happiness in life.
If, on the one hand, it is misleading to chase after happiness in every way, there is, on the other hand, a lot to speak in favor of making it easier for him to enter it through your own efforts. According to Höffe, it is particularly important to gain clarity about one's own talents - including their limits - and to shape one's own life accordingly on the basis of a realistic self-assessment. The "know yourself", which as a temple inscription admonished visitors to the oracle of Delphi , was already interpreted by Socrates in the sense of such a eudaimonistic signpost.
In this context, Wilhelm Schmid recommends a cautious “hermeneutic of the self” as a continuous process: “Hermeneutic self-knowledge is not really about knowledge in the full sense of the word, because life cannot be postponed until knowledge of the self is complete. This is taken into account by the provisional, operable self-knowledge, which meets the criteria of plausibility and evidence, as a result of a rich experience and critical examination of oneself, in order to become clearer about oneself. " To avoid excessive intrusion into oneself, so that there is no self-harm or even self-destruction: “Self-knowledge is the moderate and pragmatic form of self-knowledge, its liveable measure, true to the other requirement of the Delphic temple: 'Nothing in excess. '“
Höffe also sees the validity of the ancient doctrines of happiness, which is aimed at practicing virtues, of lasting validity, as he sums up: “While the virtuous path easily leads into the abyss of failure, virtue does not protect against every misfortune, but with its help the success becomes Life is highly probable. ”Solon and Aristotle resonate in the conclusion:“ To be completely happy, you don't just need to do your own thing. Even if the first source of happiness lies in people, their virtues, they also need a lucky skill, and therefore a gift from outside. "
- Fulfillment and new desire
Martin Seel sees human happiness only partially connected with the fulfillment of wishes; For him there is also a need for fulfillment: to have something “that really matters to us or that we care about with all our hearts.” He considers passion for certain things in life - regardless of the success that occurs or does not materialize - as a central goal of human life itself. Passion is the prerequisite for "experiencing moments of outstanding episodic fulfillment."
There are many different things a person strives for in the course of their life. Because they themselves as well as their projects have changed, which is why it is wise to keep yourself open to changes in your own sphere of activity. "But where there is no room for change and chance, there is no room for human happiness."
For Seel, a further basic requirement of individual happiness is personal autonomy with regard to the desired goals and the commitment to be made. That doesn't rule out periods of frustration and despair. The only exclusion condition for happy fulfillment is "to live the way you - basically or at all - don't want to."
- World happiness report
In the context of climate change and sustainability, happiness is also increasingly discussed in international politics. In 2012, the UN published a world happiness report for the first time, for which the happiness researchers John Helliwell and Richard Layard as well as the UN Special Advisor for the Millennium Development Goals Jeffrey Sachs evaluated international comparative happiness surveys up to 2011. The main result of the study is that economic growth only makes people happier if they were previously poor.
"Happiness" is a common goal of ancient and modern Western education. Friedrich Froebel has already been quoted as saying:
"Children should not be preserved and taught, but happy they should grow, strengthen and develop in the sunlight, they should unfold like the flower under the caring hand of the knowledgeable gardener."
Under the auspices of the Dalai Lama, the school subject “happiness” was introduced in 2018 for schools in the Indian administrative district of Delhi . In the future, pupils up to eighth grade should explore, experience and express happiness and happiness with the help of meditation, games and discussions.
In Germany, the former headmaster Ernst Fritz-Schubert founded an institute in 2009 that advocates the school subject "happiness". Here life skills, zest for life and personality development are to be established as regular subjects in everyday school life.
The US psychologists Donald Akutagawa and Terry Whitman objected: “The main task [in raising children] is not to make children happy, but to help them gain the competence to cope with life. And part of that skill is learning to deal with life's problems on your own. If they are happy in this [upbringing] process, that is an added bonus. "
Lucky symbols or lucky charms include:
- Four-leaf clover leaf
- Chimney sweeps or chimney sweeps
- Lucky penny (formerly: 1 penny coin; now: 1 Euro - cents - coin or 1 penny coin)
- Lucky stone
- Hare paw
- Fly agaric
Words are for his peers what the colors on the palette are for the painter, said Hermann Hesse : “There are countless of them, and new ones are always emerging, but the good, the real words are less numerous, and I have it in seventy Years have not seen a new one come into being. ”From the available words, everyone makes his choice with regard to the preferred and those he prefers to avoid. Hesse further distinguishes between the everyday used "a thousand times" and the "festive" ones chosen "only with care and consideration". For him, the word "luck" is one of those seldom said and written:
"I found that this word, in spite of its brevity, had something astonishingly heavy and full, something that was reminiscent of gold, and rightly apart from its fullness and importance, it also had its shine, like lightning in the cloud it lived in the short syllable, which began so melting and smiling with the GL, rested so laughing in the Ü and so briefly, and in the CK ended so resolutely and tightly. It was a word to laugh and cry, a word full of primal magic and sensuality ... "
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- Fortuna - RDK - Labor
- Wheel of Fortuna
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- Klein, pp. 98f.
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- Klein, pp. 65f .; Gödtel, p. 115.
- Gödtel, p. 75.
- Gödtel, p. 72.
- Gerhard Schulze: The best of all worlds. Where is society headed in the 21st century? Munich / Vienna 2003, p. 357f.
- Klein, pp. 274f.
- Klein, p. 276.
- Klein, p. 278.
- Klein, p. 29.
- "Le cœur a ses raisons que la raison ne connaît pas"; quoted n. Klein, p. 35.
- Dalai Lama, Howard C. Cutler: Training the Mind for Happiness. Quoted from Andrea Löhndorf (ed.): Glück. A reader on the art of living . dtv Taschenbuch 20521, Munich 2002, ISBN 3-423-20521-0 , p. 81 .
- Klein, pp. 72f.
- Gödtel, p. 17.
- Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: Flow - the optimal experience. Quoted after Andrea Löhndorf (Ed.): Luck . A reader on the art of living. dtv Taschenbuch 20521, Munich 2002, ISBN 3-423-20521-0 , p. 130/135 . In 2010, the psychologists Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert from Harvard University carried out a study with 2200 test persons, which showed that the inner focus of attention on only a single (current) object or acting on only a certain activity favors the feeling of happiness. ( Matthew A. Killingsworth, Daniel T. Gilbert . A Wandering Mind Is an Unhappy Mind In: Science . November 12th 2010, accessed 16 November 2010 (English). , John Tierney: When the Mind Wanders, Happiness So Strays . In: the New York Times . November 15th 2010, accessed 16 November 2010 (English). )
- Klein, p. 185.
- Klein, pp. 190f.
- Barheier, Bellebaum: Happiness ideas - a return to the history of sociology. In: Alfred Bellebaum: happiness ideas . A return to the history of sociology. Ed .: Klaus Barheier. Westdeutscher Verlag, Opladen 1997, ISBN 3-531-12985-6 , pp. 7th f . The authors see the long reluctance to answer questions about happiness research in connection with the endeavor to stabilize sociology as a serious science and field of study alongside other disciplines.
- Ulrich Beck: Risk Society. On the way to a different modern age . Frankfurt am Main 1986, p. 9 f.
- Ulrich Beck: Risk Society. On the way to a different modern age . Frankfurt am Main 1986, p. 217.
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- Reader's Digest Survey 2014: What Makes Us Really Happy , presseportal.de, news from June 5, 2014.
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- The lucky ones . In: Berliner Zeitung . November 28, 2000.
- Faster? Richer? Happier! In: The time . No. 28/2007. Critical attention is also given to the possible use of such comparative studies for political purposes: “Since a study by the London School of Economics has shown that the very poorest, namely the people of Bangladesh, are among the happiest in the world, the question of basic needs has also been asked by the legitimate suspicion that it could be "an important part of the recipe for happiness" to "reduce one's expectations to a miserable minimum," as the philosopher Susan Neiman puts it. That would be a great starting point for those wealthy lovers of renunciation, who suggest how good even German Hartz IV recipients are, if you only compare their standard of living with that of the poorest. “ What do people need? In: The time. No. 28/2007.
- The peak of the discontented . In: Telepolis .
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- German-language reception example: Die Weltkarte des Glücks . FAZ.NET, July 28, 2006.
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- Andrew T. Jebb, Louis Tay, Ed Diener, Shigehiro Oishi: Happiness, income satiation and turning points around the world . In: Nature Human Behavior . tape 2 , no. 1 , 2018, ISSN 2397-3374 , p. 33–38 , doi : 10.1038 / s41562-017-0277-0 ( nature.com [accessed September 17, 2019]).
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- Höffe, p. 92f.
- Horn, p. 108f.
- Herodotus I, 29-32
- Horn, p. 65ff.
- "... justice in and of itself, we found, is the best for the soul in and of itself, and what is just must be done ..." (Plato, Politeia 612 b)
- Gorgias 523 a ff.
- Plato, Politeia 614 a ff.
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics I, 1 (1094 b 11ff.)
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics I, 5 (1097 b 1ff.) "So happiness seems to be the perfect and self-sufficient good and the ultimate goal of action." (1097 b 19-21)
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics X, 6 (1176 a 33–35.)
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics X, 7 (1177 a 19f.)
- "So if, among the virtuous acts, those who revolve around the state and war are at the forefront in terms of beauty and greatness and they are nevertheless incompatible with leisure and directed towards a goal outside of them, that is, they are not desired because of themselves, and if, on the other hand, the contemplative activity of the mind seems to stand out in earnest, and has no other purpose than itself, and also includes a peculiar pleasure that increases the activity, then one sees clearly that in this activity, as far as it is humanly possible, the self-sufficiency , what else attaches still the blessed, is the leisure, freedom from fatigue and everything can be found. "(Aristotle, Nicomachean ethics X, 7 (1177 b 16-25.))
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics X, 9 (1178 b 33- a 3.)
- Plutarch , Alexandros, 14.
- Heinrich Niehues-Pröbsting: The Kynismus of Diogenes and the concept of cynicism . Wilhelm Fink Verlag, Munich 1979, p. 96.
- Achim Engstler : The Pyrrhonic Skepticism. In: Friedo Ricken (ed.): Philosophers of antiquity. Volume II, Stuttgart / Berlin / Cologne 1996, p. 10.
- Diogenes Laertios summarized the teaching of Antisthenes in the formula that virtue is sufficient for happiness in life, but paired with the strength of a Socrates. Döring relates the mentioned power of Socrates to his ability to be extremely undemanding to all physical needs and z. B. get along with the simplest food, clothing and shelter without perceiving this as a deficiency. (Klaus Döring: The so-called little Socratics and the traditions they founded. In: Friedo Ricken (Hrsg.): Philosophen der Antike. I, Stuttgart / Berlin / Köln 1996, p. 207)
- Quoted after Malte Hossenfelder : Epicurus. Beck, Munich 2006, p. 29.
- Epistulae morales 85, 2.
- Self- VI, 44.
- Horn, p. 104.
- Horn, p. 107.
- “To be happy is necessarily the desire of every reasonable but finite being and therefore an inevitable determining factor of his capacity for desire. Because satisfaction with his finite existence is [...] also a problem imposed on him by his finite nature. "(KpV, AA V, 25 , Note II)
- “Now it is impossible for the most insightful and at the same time most capable, but finite being to form a definite concept of what it really wants here. If someone wants wealth, how much worry, envy and misery could he not get on his neck. If he wants a lot of knowledge and insight, perhaps that could only become an all the more keen eye to show him the evils that are still hidden for him and yet cannot be avoided, just to show him all the more terribly, or to show his desires that he is to create enough to create even more needs. If he wants a long life, who can guarantee that it will not be long misery? If he at least wants health, how often has the uneasiness of the body prevented debauchery, into which unlimited health would have dropped etc. "(GMS, AA 4, 418 )
- “So one cannot act according to certain principles in order to be happy, but only according to empirical advice, e.g. B. diet, thrift, politeness, restraint, etc., of which experience teaches that on average they promote well-being the most. From this it follows that the imperatives of prudence do not command prudence to speak precisely, that is, they can represent actions objectively as practical = necessary, that they are to be regarded more as advice (consilia) than commandments (praecepta) of reason that the task : to determine with certainty and in general which action would promote the happiness of a rational being, completely indissoluble, and consequently no imperative in respect of the same is possible, which in the strict sense dictates to do what makes happy, because happiness is not an ideal of reason , but the imagination is what is based solely on empirical reasons [...] "(GMS, AA IV, 418 )
- Ingo Marthaler: Conscious life. Morals and happiness with Immanuel Kant, de Gruyter, Berlin 2014, 23
- A detailed analysis of the Kantian theory of happiness can be found in: Ji Young Kang: Die Allgemeine Glückseligkeit. On the systematic position and functions of happiness in Kant, de Gruyter, Berlin 2015 (Kant studies supplementary books, volume 184)
- “But this distinction between the principle of happiness and that of morality is not an immediate opposition between the two, and pure practical reason does not want one to give up claims to happiness, but only, as soon as duty is mentioned, not take it into consideration. "(KpV, AA 5.93 )
- KpV, AA V, 124 ; See MS, AA VI, 480
- Thomä, p. 11. In summary, Heidegger says, ibid., P. 212: “In the few places where he even speaks of happiness, he leaves no doubt that he wants to get rid of this term [... ]. Heidegger aims at a radical overcoming of the connection between self-determination and self-preservation, which at the same time leaves behind the happiness trapped in this connection. From a systematic point of view, his conception is thus the exact counterpart to utilitarianism, which adheres to self-preservation and self-determination and exactly accommodates happiness in them. "
- Thomä, p. 132.
- “Of course, a member of a democratic order is not forced to exercise self-control and autonomy without ceasing. At the same time, there is a risk that the ability of self-determination will be assessed across the board for all areas of life - including those to which it does not fit, as shown. "(Thomä, p. 230)" Sennett criticizes the excessive demands that arise from the Assumption results that in the age of individualization everyone can currently dispose of their living conditions, master new circumstances, act mobile and flexible, etc. What complementarity should represent - the dynamic relationships between society and economy as well as the dynamic competencies of the individual - changes from his point of view into a ruinous constellation, because the dynamics on the side of the individuals cannot be lived in the required form. "(ibid., p. 287)
- Thomä, p. 269.
- Thomä, p. 291.
- Schmid, p. 18.
- Schmid, p. 381.
- Schmid, p. 379f.
- Kumpf, p. 136.
- Höffe, p. 100.
- "What is your opinion: who knows himself better: the one who only knows his name, or the one who does it like the buyer of horses? They believe that they only know a horse to choose from when they have investigated whether it is obedient or stubborn, strong or weak, fast or slow, yes, in general, in everything that is expected of a horse, usable or useless . In the same way, only those who submit to the test of the extent to which they do justice to the tasks facing people will recognize their strengths. ”(Xenophon, Memorabilia IV 2, 25.)
- Schmid, p. 90.
- Schmid, p. 91.
- Höffe, p. 177.
- Höffe, p. 176.
- Martin Seel: Paradoxes of Fulfillment. In: Susan Neiman and Matthias Kroß (eds.): Fortunately. Berlin 2004, pp. 242-244.
- Martin Seel: Paradoxes of Fulfillment. In: Susan Neiman and Matthias Kroß (eds.): Fortunately. Berlin 2004, pp. 242-244.
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